Too Close for Comfort: Inadequate Boundaries With Parents and Individuation in Late Adolescent Girls

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This longitudinal study examined the ramifications of psychological control-guilt induction, parentification, triangulation, and blurring in parent-adolescent relationships for girls' individuation and adjustment. The study followed 120 girls in their transition from high school to military service. Results from the variable-centered and person-centered analyses merged in underscoring the somewhat different developmental path of two groups of inadequate boundary constellations. The group with high guilt induction and psychological control, which involves rejection and invalidation of the child's autonomous self, evinced the worst coping and adjustment to the transition and the lowest level of individuation with a combination of angry entanglement and strivings for overindependence. The blurred-parentified group resembled the adequate boundaries group regarding some indicators (e.g., low levels of engulfment anxiety and high conflictual independence), but further revealed overdependence and immaturity (e.g., high nurturance seeking, low emotional independence, and the lowest functional independence). Implications for preventive work with adolescents and their families are suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-202
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Orthopsychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2009


  • adolescence
  • individuation
  • parent-adolescent relationship
  • psychological control
  • role-reversal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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